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11 blogs and apps for learning Thai
For the novice and the advanced, these Thai language resources take the pain out of learning
There are dozens of websites, blogs and apps out there devoted to helping people master the Thai language. Here is a selection of some of the best.
Keep in mind this list is by no means comprehensive. Each item will have different benefits for each student depending on their level of ability and whether or not they want to focus on reading, writing or speaking.
The iPhone’s hundreds of language apps pack an entire book’s worth of information in your pocket. Here are some of the top Thai language ones.
Reading Thai: US$4.99
This colorful app has everything beginners need to get the basics down -- consonants, vowels, numbers, tone marks, and those dastardly tone rules.
Reading Thai nicely straddles the line between coming off as too child-like and too hard to get into. Good for quick reference, while the option that allows you to hear the letter or vowel being spoken is a nice touch too.
WordPower Thai: US$9.99
This is a pretty comprehensive app that features dozens of words in different categories, such as "numbers," "body parts" or "food."
In each section of WordPower users will find a Thai word and the English translation; a listen button lets you hear the word spoken, a record button lets you say it, and a play button allows you to hear how close you got. There’s also a flashcard game with audio that’s a great tool for long taxi commutes.
MyWords Thai: US$9.99
If you’re up for learning 10 new Thai words a day, this little app is a great teacher. MyWords is another app that lets you listen to the word, record your voice and play it back to see how badly you mangled it, and lets you save the ones you have difficulty with for later.
Repetition is key here and it’s not for beginners as you need to be able to read some basic Thai to start.
Talking Thai-English-Thai Dictionary: US$24.99
The newest talking dictionary on the scene ain’t cheap but it’s a real cracker. Created by Thai language doyens Benjawan Becker and Chris Pirazzi -- whose names are seen all over the language sections of most bookstores -- the Talking Thai-English-Thai Dictionary app is a great learning tool with over 100,000 entries, each with a corresponding audio file.
Essentially, it’s a talking bilingual dictionary in your pocket, which can come in very handy indeed.
Gengo Flashcards Thai: US$5.99
What pretty pictures! This longtime favorite of iPhone language learning offers both a game and a flashcard option with many categories. The flashcard options shows you a photo, you say it, then press the icon to see if you got it right (it saves the ones you miss).
Gengo's game option is fun too, showing you three pictures at the same time it says a word; you have to pick the picture that corresponds to the word you just heard.
As expected there are many more websites dedicated to learning Thai than there are apps, simply because it’s so easy to set one up.
Many of them go for a while and then fall into disuse by their creator, but below is a good selection of sites that are have been on the scene for a while and show no signs of slowing down.
Women Learning Thai
Quite probably the largest and most comprehensive list of Thai learning resources out there, Women Learning Thai creator Catherine has put together a spectacular website that covers everything -- interviews with students, resources for learning, links to other blogs, reviews, news … it’s all here.
Learn Thai from a White Guy
The best thing about using multilingual Brett’s site, www.learnthaifromawhiteguy.com, is his sense of humor, which can be seen in everything from the posts that he writes to the name of his website.
It’s a bit difficult to navigate, but there are definitely some great tidbits to be found if you poke around. Another nice thing about the site is that it’s inspirational -- he mastered the Thai language on his own time.
Learn Thai With Mod
Her English is excellent and her videos are short and punchy while covering some of the most common phrases that you’re likely to come across in Thailand.
Tweet Yourself Thai
Hamish has put together a fun site -- www.tweetyourselfthai.wordpress.com -- wherein he picks an interesting story from the local papers or Internet and then breaks it down, picking out choice vocabulary in English and Thai, with a voice recording of the article in question.
He’s also active on Twitter, so you can keep up with his learning stream on the go by following him at @ajarnpasa.
Transparent’s Thai Blog
The blog of the software company Transparent Language, which makes language learning software, is actually pretty useful.
Nothing fancy, just regular posts that explain the how and why of a particular area of the language.
Learn Thai Podcast
Jay and Jo have put a lot of work into building their popular Thai language course that’s offered via downloadable podcasts: www.learn-thai-podcast.com.
The curriculum of over 700 lessons is spread out over a year (or can be done all at once if you drink enough Red Bull, it’s up to you), and covers everything form listening to writing.
It’s not free (under $200), but there have been plenty of happy customers over the years and it lets you go at your own pace.